Promotional Product Marketing Blog

Learn the best ways to market your brand with the use of promotional marketing products. Our blog gives you the best tips on ordering the right marketing merchandise to increase brand awareness within your target market. From creative marketing ideas to case studies of how others have used promotional items to promote their brand, we give you clear direction in aligning your promotional product campaign with your overall business goals.

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Must-Have Promotional Apparel: Elevate Polo Shirts


Face it: at the end of the day, no matter what promotional products or premiums you invest in, there’s one thing that sits above everything else – your team. With the right people projecting the right image and delivering the right message, you’ll get your business front-and-center, driving greater engagement, building better relationships and converting more customers from day one. That’s powerful.The Right Team Is Essential to a companies success

But you know that – you have the right people in the right roles projecting the right image of your brand 24/7. The next step? Ensure that branding hits before they even say a word – that’s where promotional apparel comes in.

Over the next few posts, we’ll unpack what we’re loving and what’s helping our customers take their branding – and their business – to the next level. First up: these must-have custom polo shirts from Elevate.

Upscale Polos for Brands that Can Handle It

Our Elevate Polo ShirtsElevate’s high quality polo shirts are, simply, the real deal. Not only are they designed to maximize your branding and brand recognition, but they’re made with the latest material for polo shirts – a breathable, moisture-wicking polyester that keeps you, your team and anyone else donning a shirt cool and dry.

And, when you are out and about in these promotional polo shirts you’ll never have to worry about the elements. These polo shirts are snag-resistant, tagless and made with built-in UV protection for safety, comfort and style.

Choose from one of five classic colors and, without a doubt, these shirts will become a favorite on the clock and off.

A Guide to Choosing the Right Polo Shirts

That said, we know there are a lot of polo shirts out there – and we know you want to choose the best for your business. When reviewing these and other company logo polo shirts, consider:

Material

It’s essential your polo shirts are made with the right material. The Elevate polo shirts, again, are made from high-quality polyester optimal for any climate and any environment. They breathe, they keep moisture and sweat at bay and they ensure wearers are cool and comfortable even when the temperature rises.

Branding

A big piece of any promotional polo shirts is the branding – specifically, whether you’ll embroider or screen print your logo and messaging. When you opt for embroidering this polo shirt, the design will last as long as the shirt does – your logo is stitched in and ready for anything.

Wearability

Material, quality, fit and style – they all play into the wearability of a polo shirt. The goal? Create a shirt that’s one part promotional and one part go-to polo. You want your customers and employees to don your branded apparel, and that requires an eye on the overall look and feel of the end product.

For example, if you’ve got too much branding, your polo might not make it out of the closet beyond the next trade show or two. Too little branding? You’re losing out on a major opportunity to get your business out there. Same with the fit and design. A boxy or flimsy polo might have the right branding, but it’s never making the rounds unless it’s mandatory.

Elevate definitely eliminates that challenge. These polo shirts have an on-trend asymmetrical design, which looks good on everyone and draws attention to your logo. That ensures more people see your name and your branding instantly, cutting through the clutter of busy, noisy events and ensuring you get noticed – but it’s not so over-the-top that shirts feel business-only.

Finding the Perfect Polo Occasion

Granted, these shirts aren’t just for personal or promotional wear. More and more, polos are becoming central to casual and comfort wear – and that’s becoming increasingly common in the workplace. We’ve seen startups walking event floors, mixing, mingling and pitching, with their branding incredibly organic – and incredibly front-and-center.

Casual Fridays at the OfficeWe’ve also seen these shirts become uniforms – day-to-day apparel for physical therapy and wellness centers where staffers need comfort and want to look professional. Same with car dealerships – many have shifted to a more casual, almost disarming look that gives off a truly personal vibe, while still ensuring their logo is highly visible all day long. And, of course, there’s the “Casual Friday” use – more and more businesses ditching jackets, ties and heels on Fridays in favor of jeans and polos.

Why not make their favorite Friday shirts your promotional polo shirts?

Regardless of your brand, your branding and your desired use, Elevate’s polo shirts are one of our very favorite pieces. These shirts no doubt check all the boxes, making them ideal for any business, any event or, simply, any day in the office. Get in touch to learn more, request a sample and get your polo shirts in production now.

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15 Marketing Failures and Mistakes to Avoid


The marketing industry has continued to grow through the years, with an increasing investment from companies on creating effective strategies. However, marketers and brands still make mistakes that can cost valuable time and energy.

ePromos reached out to marketing experts for tips, ideas and experience regarding marketing mistakes to watch out for. Read more for great information about how to sure your marketing campaigns of 2019 run smoothly.

1. Not Translating for a Global Audience

The biggest oversight that we often see, believe it or not, is a lack of oversight and proper staffing when it comes to marketing translations. Facebook, Google and other major worldwide platforms have made it quite simple for any size business to advertise worldwide, but there is a lack of safety nets when it comes to understanding the language and culture of target markets. 

Most recently we were called in when a client with a five figure social media campaign decided to forgo a translator in exchange for Google translate and call all their customers in Latin American severely overweight. This was a technology company that did not operate in the fitness space and so it didn’t go over terribly well.

-Zachary Weiner, CEO at Emerging Insider Communications

2. Spending Resources to Attract the Wrong Customers

I think one of the most common mistakes brands make is that they try to get as many people as they can to visit their website and become aware of who they are. While this sounds like a good idea because awareness will bring people, people become customers, and customers equal profits, I’ve found that often you can waste a lot of effort trying to get everyone to know who you are.
Instead of making this mistake, spend time understanding who your potential customer is and having a laser-like focus on marketing to them. Granted, you will likely have less people aware of your brand, but it’s better to have a small audience of very interested customers compared to a large audience with very few customers.

-Ron Stefanski, Internet Marketing Consultant, Cat Kingpin 

 

3. Long and Confusing Brand Names

 

Stacy CaprioOne of the mistakes I’ve made when setting up a few of my first sites, including my marketing blog, is using too long company and domain names. It makes the site and company name awkward to say out loud, and less likely people will remember it. I recommend everyone use a shorter, more creative name over a long, semantic match name any day.

-Stacy Caprio, Founder of Growth Marketing

 

4. Relying on a Single Social Media Platform

Jacqueline BasultoThe biggest mistake I see companies make time and time again is relying on only one social media platform or marketing channel to grow their brand. Companies like Facebook and Google are constantly changing their algorithms, and no one can be sure of what to expect. That means if you are growing rapidly on Facebook, but the algorithm changes slightly to your disadvantage, it can cost you a lot of time, money, and maybe even your business! I advise businesses and individuals to market themselves on multiple platforms and collect e-mails so that they can always reach their audience and aren’t reliant on one medium of communication.

-Jacqueline Basulto, Owner of SeedX

5. Sticking to Tried-and-True Strategies

The marketing world can change in the blink of an eye, forcing marketing teams to predict emerging trends. In other words, it’s vital that marketers don’t invest too much time and money into the same marketing strategies. Diversity is often the best policy in marketing since it helps prevent the inevitable outcome of putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket.

Diversify your marketing budget by investing in on-ground marketing, social media, content development, SEO, and so on. By limiting yourself to one method that has worked in the past, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Different marketing strategies should cater to a specific demographic and give you the ability to outwork your competition by reaching more potential clients.

-Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics

6. Waiting to Utilize the Web

Earl WhiteTraditional forms of advertising for small businesses such as direct-mail and billboards still work for my company – but are expensive and produce less motivated prospects. Our lead generation switched to high gear once we invested in our website and online traffic. My company’s biggest mistake was waiting nearly two years to make the website the core of our business. Developing a great website from “Day 1” would have expanded the lead funnel nearly a year faster. This is particularly important because search engines may take months to discover and rank your site in organic search results.

-Earl White, Marketing Manager of House Heroes

 

7. Not Building an Effective Email List

Pulkit GeraThe biggest mistake I made was not focusing on building my email list right from the beginning.
Since most people who visit your business website won’t ever return, it’s in your best interest to try and get their email address the first time. Automated email sequences are a great way to build those initial touch-points so you can sell more.

So, build your email list right from the start and send out regular newsletters to keep your subscribers engaged with your brand.

-Pulkit Gera, Founder of Blogging Done Better

 

8. Cost-Cutting Professional Advice

Jennifer HoffmanAs the owner of a digital marketing agency, one of our clients was a hot tub retailer who grew from three stores to six stores in the time we worked with them. As they grew, so did their marketing expenses. Our strategy was working, but the business owner was concerned about cost and decided to hire an employee to do their marketing work instead of us.

The new employee started all new campaigns in Google Ads but forgot to set the locations, so their ads now run across the entire US. This local hot tub company has now paid thousands and thousands of dollars in ads to target people all over the US instead of within 10 miles of each their stores.

-Jennifer Hoffman, CEO of Plum Marketing Services

9. Misunderstanding the Needs of Your Customers

Ketan KapoorThe biggest mistake a marketing campaign can do is to focus on what they think is the problem of the audience which is not what the audience considers a problem. You should be solving a core problem and not any fringe or secondary problem. You don’t have to assume what the audience needs but instead prove your intuitions with the right business intelligence. Starting without the adequate research and knowledge of what the audience needs is the cardinal mistake that can be committed by a marketer while making the brand marketing campaigns. The more you focus on their immediate and prevalent need, the more you become successful.

-Ketan Kapoor, CEO & Co-Founder of Mettl

10. Not Preparing for Failure

Shane BarkerYou prepare your marketing strategy and give it your best and hope for good results. But what if it doesn’t work? Everyone who is trying to build a new brand needs to understand that there will be challenges along the way. You cannot be perfect and win every single time. So, you need to have a plan B. I learned this early in my career, after making a few mistakes. Now, I always keep 2-3 options and strategies handy to meet any marketing objectives. For example, when building an email list, don’t depend entirely on a promotion or offer to get sign-ups. Instead, do multiple things simultaneously so that even if 1-2 plans fail, the overall objective will still be met.

-Shane Barker, Digital Strategist at ShaneBarker.com

11. Not Sticking with Loyal Customers

Andrew RudisterIt is very important that you don’t lose sight of the customers who are loyal to you. This means don’t try to change your image or purpose to help benefit your business while hurting your customers. An example of this is a campaign that was done by Netflix. Before Netflix was huge digitally, they were more of a mail-order rental. They had almost a 16-million-dollar market value with many loyal customers. In order to make more money easily, Netflix decided to join forces with an online streaming company called Qwikster. This resulted in more complications and a 60% price increase, which lead Netflix to lose 800,000 subscribers. This only wound up hurting both Netflix and its customers in the long run.

-Andrew Rudister, Lead Technology Coordinator for MAXBURST

12. Broad Targeting for Advertising

Our product is an online tool, with a free trial for people to see if they like it before buying. Like many others, we were running ads via AdWords and Facebook Ads, to get new trials and ultimately, sales.

Everything was going smoothly. We had a lot of traffic that converted into trials for a pretty cheap price, so we were convinced that our marketing campaigns were doing great! However, after digging a little more into this, we realized that all those new trials never converted into clients. The problem? We did not target efficiently. Our product is sold worldwide, however certain countries and segmentations offer a better conversion rate than others. Some offer a lot of traffic who then never convert into clients, while others usually lead to more expensive trials, but with a higher conversion rate.

So, by having very broad campaigns, including all countries, we were getting a lot of new cheap trials that simply never converted into clients. And paying ads for traffic that will never convert into clients, that’s an incredible waste of money.

-Marie Lamonde, Content Marketing Specialist at DashThis

13. Relying on a Brand Ambassador Without Help

One very expensive mistake that I’ve seen inexperienced brands make is hiring a spokesperson, influencer or celebrity representative without the help of a marketing or PR pro.

Diana KozakChoosing the right influential partner can quickly elevate a brand, product, or campaign to unprecedented heights but when the person or team responsible for selecting a representative is inexperienced, the result can be disastrous. I have worked with clients that signed long-term contracts with an influencer prior to bringing on PR and often saw it lead to legal battles, low return on investment, destroyed brand reputation and so many headaches. The celebrity or influencer will sometimes refuse to do media interviews, forget to use the name of the brand they are the face of during an interview or will accept a press interview and mispronounce the name of the brand

-Diana Kozak, Partner at AD2 Public Relations

14. Prioritizing Design Over Message

Stan TanWe’ve seen it time and time again where companies pay thousands of dollars to ad agencies to design campaigns that look good but forget about nailing the message. We’ve seen ads that make us go “That’s a terrible ad” and 99% of the time it was because of the message, not because of the design.

For example, the “Red Bull Gives You Wings” feature a cartoonish design but get the message across extremely well. Ads with the right message and terrible design always beat ads with the wrong message and world-class design.

-Stan Tan, Digital Marketing Manager at Selby’s

15. Forgetting to Double-Check for Errors

Matthew RossMy business partner and I made a huge marketing blunder in early 2018. In short, we created a promotional video to help drive traffic to our website. Within the video, we mentioned a few of our competitors and why we offered a better service. Well, somehow when our social media manager was finalizing the campaign within the Facebook ad platform, our competitor’s website link was used instead of our own. I’m still not sure to this day what exactly happened but somehow directions got lost in translation.

Bottom line, we poured $15K into the campaign and one of our competitors received all the traffic from it. In hindsight, I wish my business partner and I would have been more hands-on while finalizing the campaign specifics.

-Matt Ross, COO of The Slumber Yard

Creating a fruitful marketing strategy does not have to be rocket science. Remember that marketers are only human, and mistakes provide a valuable learning opportunity. By being aware of the possible and past failures of others in the industry, you can have a leg up on the competition by knowing exactly what to avoid in your campaigns.

Love to keep up on tips from experts? Enjoy 20 Small Business Marketing Ideas.


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Fresh Ideas to Improve Your Mobile Marketing Strategy


Most marketing experts agree that if you aren’t engaging customers through a strong mobile marketing strategy, you’re falling behind the times. It’s estimated that about 36% of the world’s population uses a smartphone, and a whopping 77% of Americans use one. In countries like Mexico, India, and Indonesia, smartphone ownership outweighs desktop ownership by as much as four times. What’s all this mean? If you want to reach an audience on a broad scale, you must meet them where they are, and based on the above stats, it couldn’t be clearer—they’re on their smartphones.

Mobile MarketingMobile marketing is exactly what it sounds like—marketing to potential customers through mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. Ads reach customers on these devices through websites, email, social media, apps, and push notifications. If this is unfamiliar territory to you, perhaps you’re wondering what the big stink is—why does it need to be mobile specific if you’re already targeting customers online, for instance? It all comes down to optimization. Optimizing your ads for mobile devices means, in simple terms, that they’ll work better on a smartphone or tablet, helping to ensure maximum engagement.

Like we said, if you aren’t already running a mobile marketing strategy, you’re lagging. Keep reading for our top 5 tips to get you started:

Mobile Marketing Tips for Beginners

Tip #1: Create a Mobile Friendly Site

Having a mobile friendly site means that your website is displayed correctly (and is fully functional) on a mobile device. Ensuring that your website is functional on a mobile device (aka mobile friendly) is considered a best practice by search engines. In today’s mobile-expanding world, it’d be foolish not to do it. For more information on mobile friendliness, Check out these tips.

Tip #2: Create a Mobile Optimized Site

Yes, there’s a difference between being mobile friendly and mobile optimized. While being mobile friendly is considered essential nowadays, it’s also pretty much the bare minimum one should do. Creating an optimized site is the next step up—but what’s the difference? Being optimized means your site goes under (varying degrees of) redesign to best fit a mobile application—this is more sophisticated than simply shrinking down your current website to be mobile friendly. Some of the key differences include navigation that is “finger friendly” and downsizing graphics so they don’t end up taking up the whole screen.

Tip #3 Create a Responsive Design

A third option for ensuring your site will display and function correctly on a mobile device is to have it be created with “responsive design site”. It might sound complicated, but the heart of this type of design simply means that the website will reformat/design itself based on the screen size of the device being used. It’s extremely flexible, smart, and covers all the bases—you have a single website that’s smart enough to adapt based on users’ devices.

Tip #4 Track Mobile Website Data and Mobile Campaigns

Getting your site mobile-ready is no small feat. If you don’t have an in-house team of software engineers busy working on it, you’ve likely teamed up with a vendor to do the heavy lifting (and we can bet it’s not been cheap). With all that effort to arrive on mobile platforms, surely, you’ll want to monitor how your website/campaigns are faring. Further, you will likely want to make changes/updates to the site based on the data you’re getting back, which can include demographics, volume, and buying patterns.

Tip #5 Monitor Site Speed and Compress Images

“A picture is worth a thousand words” which is why they’re a key ingredient in creating smart, visually stimulating and engaging websites. That said, all those graphics can seriously drag down speed, ruining a customer experience. For example, perhaps they popped on your site for an impulse purchase, but the images are taking forever to download. What happens next? The customer likely backs out of your site and moves on. Maybe not a huge deal for him or her, but you’ve just lost a sale (or worse, a potential customer). Therefore it’s essential for you to monitor your site speed and make sure things are running smoothly (and quickly) on the customer’s end.
For a more exhaustive explanation, check out this article, which includes suggestions for ways to speed up image-heavy sites.

Fresh Ideas for Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

Ready to design a mobile marketing strategy? Below we offer fresh ideas to make your strategy a stand-out.

Idea #1 Integrate Chatbots and AI into Your Site

Offsetting customer service resources to chatbots and AI is an excellent way to be there for your customer 24/7. Think about it – mobile devices are all about “on the go” convenience, keeping the world at your fingertips no matter where you are. Nothing drags down that liberation more than having to stop and dial a 1-800 number only to sit on hold or send an email and waiting days for a response.
That said, your chatbots/AI needs to be of high quality to create a truly seamless and personalized experience for the customer. When done correctly, they can improve customer engagement. See how big names like National Geographic and Whole Foods are already using them.

Idea #2 Promote Your Social Presence with Examples of User-Generated Content

Our PopSockets Diamond Aluminum PopSockets Custom Cell Phone Stand & GripUser-generated content has long been deemed more influential than brand content. Plus, you can usually nab it for free simply by asking customers for reviews or running a social media campaign (hashtag in hand). Bridging your website with your Instagram account (for example) is a great way to pull in real-life examples that makes your site/product/content more trustworthy.
If you really want to engage customers, create incentives for them to write reviews, enter your Instagram campaign, etc. This could be a point system that equates to gift cards for merchandise or freebies, or a prize awarded at the end of a big online campaign. Freebies could include useful cell phone accessories, Bluetooth headphones and popsockets.

Idea #3 Brainstorm Interesting and Engaging Ways to Use Push Notifications

In theory, Push notifications are fantastic. They jump front and center to catch a customer’s attention by essentially interrupting their viewing. The downside? That can be both intrusive and annoying! If you’re going to interrupt your customer’s experience, this article advises that it should be timely, personal, and actionable. For instance, if a customer is looking at an item to buy, now is a perfect time to have a notification pop up that offers 15% off a purchase in exchange for signing up for your email list. If a discount doesn’t quite fit the bill, consider something a customer might find interesting or funny, but make sure it relates to your brand.

Idea #4 Be Micro-Moment ready

The expanse of the world wide web can be quickly overwhelming to customers, which is why many brands are turning to “micro moments”. These are bite-sized pieces of information created to specifically and quickly answer what the customer seeks. Again, lots of mobile surfing/purchasing is impulse-based. If you don’t show up in that single moment, you risk losing the customer. In order to do this, you need to anticipate what your customer is going to need, and have it ready in a quick, easy package for when they come asking (or scrolling…). This article explains micro-moments in more detail and why you need to pay attention to these opportunities.

Idea #5 Get Creative with Email

Most people check emails on their phones. That said, email has become notorious for inundating customers with spam and other unwanted junk. If you’re going to utilize an email list, make sure you churn something out that’s worth reading. Offer a coupon, special VIP code, or other tempting discount to encourage customers to jump over to your site (via easily found link in said-email) to take advantage of the savings. Or, send out a monthly newsletter that appeals to your customer base with helpful or interesting information. For example, if you’re a swimwear company, instead of just showing your product month after month, write up a short piece on a hidden Costa Rican beach gem, a sustainability effort being done in the tropics, or a humanitarian campaign to clean up remaining hurricane disasters in the Caribbean. If you can pique customers’ interests on multiple levels, you may not only gain a sale, but the blessed forward to a friend – your future customer.

And there you have it, our best tips and ideas for getting started on your mobile marketing strategy. While it’s certainly a big task, we hope that we’ve helped communicate the importance—and benefits—you stand to win by fully utilizing mobile. Smartphones are like a third arm these days; make sure to offer something worth holding on to.

Love the idea of the Popsocket giveaway? Share these Top 10 Hacks for Popsockets.


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The PhoneBrella is the Ultimate Promotional Bluetooth Item. Here’s Why&...


The PhoneBrella is the Bluetooth® accessory you never knew you always needed. Forget fumbling to find your phone while holding an umbrella. With the PhoneBrella you have a hands-free solution to getting caught in the rain.

Bluetooth technology is an unstoppable force that is fueling both the retail and promotional worlds. Stay connected without being physically connected. Wireless is where it’s at. What better way to show your customers that you are keeping up with the latest trends?Our PhoneBrella

What is a PhoneBrella?

The PhoneBrella is a revolutionary product that features Bluetooth technology built into the handle of an umbrella. What does that mean exactly? Well, quite simply, it means your customers can sync their phones to answer calls or listen to music without struggling to hold both their umbrella and their phone.

How Does it Work?

On the sleek and comfortable handle of the umbrella you will find a large circle button that allows you to pick up and end phone calls. To get started, hold down the circle button until you hear it respond. Next, enable the Bluetooth settings on your phone to pair with the PhoneBrella. When the pairing is successful you will hear the umbrella speaker say “Bluetooth connected.”

The speaker and microphone are built right into the handle of the umbrella. Just like a Bluetooth device for your car, you’ll hear your phone ring from the speaker. To answer the phone call, press the circle button. When the call is over, press the circle button again to end the conversation.

The PhoneBrella also allows you to listen to music through the speaker on the handle. With the two triangular buttons (above and below the circle button) you can easily skip and repeat songs without going back into your phone.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Aside from its awesome Bluetooth capabilities, the PhoneBrella also features an auto-open and auto-close feauture so you never have to struggle with a stubborn spring again. The large button with up/down arrows toward the top of the handle will release and expand the umbrella, and when you’re done it will also retract and collapse it quickly and efficiently.

When closed, the entire length measures 13.5″ making it easy to fit in a briefcase, purse or backpack. The PhoneBrella currently comes in three colors: black, grey and navy. The nylon canopy offers a 46″ arc for excellent coverage. And the sophisticated retail packaging brings it all together.

Screen print your logo on any panel or add additional imprint areas for maximum visibility.

Why is the PhoneBrella a Must-Have Bluetooth Accessory?

This unique product allows your customers to stay dry and use their phones while keeping one hand free. It’s so unique, in fact, the novelty in and of itself will have people talking about your brand.

The PhoneBrella appeals to a wide range of customers. Golf-related businesses can hand these out at tournaments, as they are sure to come in handy if there should be rain. City commuters using public transportation to get to the office often walk in the rain from subway platforms and train stations. Imagine how freeing it would be to give these customers a hand – literally – with the PhoneBrella. College students who have to walk across campus can also see the value in having this innovative Bluetooth accessory.

To top it all off, the PhoneBrella can actually send a reminder to your customers to take the umbrella whenever there is a high chance of rain! For an additional charge, your PhoneBrella can feature a hangtag for the Rain Alertz app attached to the handle. The hangtag provides instructions for how to download the Rain Alertz app for free using iTunes®, Google Play® or the Windows® Store.

Once downloaded, the customer is prompted to enter a unique code, which can be found on the hangtag. The code is tied to your customized alert message and branded five-day forecast, which will display on their smartphones when the chance of rain is 60% or higher. The alert works off the GPS in the phone so no matter where your customers travel, they will see your logo for a subtle reminder of your brand anytime there is a high chance of rain.

Make the PhoneBrella your newest promotional Bluetooth accessory today! Call us, the Promo Know-How People to incorporate this item into your marketing plan.

Love reading up on our Product of the Month?  Here’s our January issue in case you missed it.

Want to see and experience more promotional product trends for 2019? Check out our album on Facebook, and while you’re at it, follow us on TwitterInstagramLinked In and Pinterest to stay up-to-date with what we’re promoting.


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College Reps Say These are the Top Giveaways Students Want


Giveaways College Students Actually WantColleges are a haven for marketing giveaways. College students are tech-savvy, impressionable, and generally resigned to cafeteria food or dollar ramen packets thanks to the exuberant cost of a college education these days—which is precisely why you should target them with promotional gear. Unlike older generations, they’ve grown up using technology. Hence, they’ll have great use and appreciate for your tech-related branded giveaways, such as power cords and USB keys. Their youth allows them to be open-minded, as they form interests and loyalties outside of the family home—an opportune time for a company to make a lasting impression and potentially earn a brand loyalist. Gifting them items they can actually use in their daily at a time when funds are limited means your item has a greater chance of sticking around for a while.

With that said, don’t assume anything you throw at them will stick. College students may typically have limited resources, but they’re not desperate. Gifting them something completely unrelated to their daily lives and interests is a surefire way to ensure it ends up in the trash—a waste of your time, efforts, and money. Instead, consider these ideas below for items that college students will use, keep, and enjoy.

Giveaway #1: Drawstring Bags 

Lightweight, compact, and able to hold a decent amount of stuff, drawstring bags are a must for college kids moving around campus.

While they’re great for everyday use when running between classes, work, and social activities, they especially shine in the gym and at other athletic spaces, such as the basketball or tennis court. They offer a perfect solution for stashing sneakers, gym clothes, and other items that may be needed for a work-out or casual game with friends.

To make sure yours stands out, ideally you could use the college colors, mascot, or another way that links your bag to the school (with their permission, of course).

Giveaway #2: Messenger/Laptop Bags

College Student with Backpack

This style of bag tends to be more heavyweight, sturdy, and stronger, which allows it to hold heavier stuff items like textbooks and laptops. Laptop bags specifically provide compartments and cushioning to allow for extra protection of electronics that aren’t typically found in the average backpack. This makes a messenger/laptop bag a standout item, as nearly every college student considers a laptop as a daily necessity. A nice addition to this bag style is one that has a compartment to hold a drink, like a bottle of water or soda—something many college kids carry on them as they move throughout their busy days.

Giveaway #3: Lighters

A zippo brand lighter will last for ages—well past college in fact. As such, it’s a treasured item, especially when compared to the cheap plastic lighters that are forever going lost. Lighters can be branded with beautiful engraving. Consider doing something school oriented, the name and date of a significant event, or a picture that illustrates something memorable about the school, location, event, etc. This could include a type of tree or flower that grows across the campus, a mountain seen in the distance, a favorite campus food, or anything else that triggers a generally recognized memory of the school.

Giveaway #4: Water Bottles

A reusable water bottle is a great promotional giveaway for college students for multiple reasons, but none so much as they’re simply incredibly useful. Whether filling up at the water fountain between classes or carrying it to a gym session, there are plenty of opportunities for college folks to get good use out of it, which your brand will be along for the ride thanks to a perfectly positioned logo/company name/etc. Bonus: keep the design young and quirky to stand out and catch their attention.

Giveaway #5: T-shirts

The old trusty t-shirt is an enviably easy way to capture attention, as well as something that will get plenty of use. The college crowd is especially keen to throw on a t-shirt for an early morning class (paired with sweatpants after a late-night studying…or partying…). Liven the shirt up with a funky picture or catchy phrase to elevate it to the top of the t-shirt pile in any given dorm.

Giveaway #6: Notebooks

We may be living in a tech age, but paper hasn’t gone away. A notebook is still a highly useful tool for college students, who are juggling lectures, projects, and papers. A notebook is a classic school tool, which means it will be used extensively (until it’s completely filled up).

Giveaway #7: Pens

 

What pairs better with a notebook than a pen? A pen is an inexpensive but effective promotional giveaway. It’s something every college kid needs to keep on-hand. Offering them one free? Even better.

 

 

Giveaway #8: Phone Chargers

Dealing with the ever-important phone charger can be annoying. They have a way of walking off seemingly on their own; imaging trying to keep hold of one in a dorm housing hundreds of students? Frankly, no sane person would throw out a free phone charger, lest of all a college student. Instead, opt to stand out with a portable power bank, especially if you’re gifting them at a school with a large commuting student population.

We hope this list has helped you brainstorm some ideas for your next college promotional giveaway. For even more ideas, check out our running list of college promotional items, tailored specifically for students.

Some parting advice? Once you settle on an item, remember to include an eye-catching logo/slogan/etc.—this is how you’ll not only get used, but noticed around campus by other students. Channeling the ups and downs, heartthrobs and heartbreaks of being a college student is a great way to connect with this giant audience. If all else fails, be funny. Between exams and mounting student debt, what college student couldn’t use a good laugh?


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6 Promotional Product Trends Spotted at the 2019 PPAI Expo


In a word, WOW! We just spent the week pounding the proverbial pavement at the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. This show is, hands down, one of the premier events for the promotional product industry, where thousands of marketers, entrepreneurs, vendors and innovative industry insiders mix, mingle and unpack what’s new and next on the premium front. And this year was truly jaw-dropping, even by PPAI standards.

So the BIG question? “What’s about to burst onto the scene in 2019 and beyond?” In addition to the promotional product trends we identified at our first show in Orlando, there were a ton of truly unique, truly innovative products, each building on 2018’s most high tech, high touch, customer-first must-haves. So, regardless of your budget, your business or the message you want to share with the world, there was something at PPAI for you. Read on, then get in touch.

2019 Promotional Product Trend Takeaways

Trend #1: Branding That Goes BIG on Apparel

Branding was BIG at PPAI. While that may not sound like a surprise, this year’s vendors took branding and messaging to new heights. Whether it was a clever and unexpected placement, high impact technique or simple creative imprinting and embroidery, we saw (and applauded) it all.

One of our favorites was the Elevate Karmine Softshell jacket. This clean classic offers seemingly endless branding options, all while retaining its sleek appearance.

Check out this example, which shows how a client utilized many different branding opportunities, including:

● Their anniversary logo “HXD” in metallic and on the bicep of jackets

● Their company name laser-printed with zebra print behind the embroidery of their transfer

● Embroidery on the back of jackets to identify staff

●A private label on the back of the jacket

● Custom interior branding utilized to show the company’s core values – this company took full advantage of the available branding space

Our Elevate Karmine Jacket Shown with Various Multi-Media Imprints.

Speaking of jackets, did you know 70% of consumers keep their promo outerwear for a year or longer and that 42% of women wear their outerwear on a weekly basis? Long gone are the days of boxy, hard t-shirts as the only option for your brand. Performance and high-tech is hot right now, and the trend is here to stay. Interested in more stats? Click here.

Trend #2: Tech Swag

No question, all things tech are big again in 2019. The difference? This year we’re seeing tech pop up in some very unexpected places. For example, Threadfast gives you the opportunity to add RFID to their shirts (wow!) A small chip is placed at the bottom and, unless you were looking, is more or less undetectable. What to do with it? Consider activating promotions as wearers pass by your store or trade show booth, go number free at an upcoming race, or simply better control your inventory. The possibilities are endless.
Threadfast shirts offer RFID capability
Bluetooth® has also been front-and-center this week. Looking for something fun and different? These UV 400 Bluetooth speaker sunglasses allow you to listen to music or take a hands-free call with a quick click. Great for fitness and outdoor brands, the top of the case has a beautiful large imprint area.

Our Bluetooth Sunglasses

Trend #3: Retail Meets Promotional

Modern. Sustainable. Efficient. Recognizable. These are some of the words to describe just some of the themes we saw across the board. One of our faves for corporate gift-giving? These compression packing cubes. You just can’t go wrong with useful items.

Our Custom Compression Packing Cubes

Another brand we’re digging? Parkland. Owned by the retail brand, Herschel, these bags use fabrics created from 12 plastic bottles (per bag).  A fantastic choice to show your support for the environment and stay on-trend.

Parkland Bags are made from 12 plastic bottles

Food treats, like this Rice Krispies® jar and topping kit are also making heads turn this year. We’ve seen similar food gifts offered at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. They’re simple and frill-free, but the packaging makes a bold statement.

Our Rice Crispy Treat Jar and Toppings Mix

 

Trend #4: Active Lifestyle Items to Get Out and About

We’ve been seeing a lot of the wilderness and “spending time outdoors” trends pop up lately. While this was certainly present at the PPAI Expo, we also saw other alternatives to “get out” – namely, some very cool, very clever promotional items ideal for an active lifestyle.

For starters, these chargers with suction cups are perfect for everything from tailgating to camping to hitting the beach – suction your charger and, ideally, your device, away from dirt, sand, BBQ sauce and anything that could be a hazard. It’s simple but totally brilliant.

Our Wireless Charger with Suction

Same goes for these speakers with removable tees. If you’re hitting the greens, you can bring along your beats and your tees, all in compact packaging that easily pops into your golf cart cup holder. Every time your clients hop in their cart, they’ll think of – and thank – YOU.

Speaker with Golf Tees

Also ideal for a beach day: custom surfboards. Sure, these are very “big ticket” items, but for the right brand and the right customers, distributing these – even to just one or two relevant recipients – will drive tons of impressions, word-of-mouth and that all-important cool factor. Don’t have the budget? Consider these beach cup holders, which stick right into the sand, keeping your drink nice and clean. So simple, yet so practical and genius that everyone will wish they came up with the idea themselves.

Go big with custom surfboards or budget friendly with beach cup holders

Trend #5: Upscale Wine Accessories

We just couldn’t resist these upscale wine accessories, which seem to be getting more high-tech and more sophisticated by the year. To compliment our top selling insulated wine tumbler, consider this Aviana™ Chateau Double Wall Stainless Wine Bottle Cooler or perhaps this temperature sensor, which tells you the current temperature of the wine.

Luxury Wine Accessories

Trend #6: Classic Creativity Gets a Nod

And, of course, there’s the classic trend: amazing creativity. This year, “thumbs up” goes to these blood bags – yes, blood bags. Each proudly announces the “color” that a recipient bleeds – open the bag and pull out a matching t-shirt for their favorite sports team.

Bleed Bags with Custom T-shirt Inside

Whether it’s Dodgers® blue or Rockies™ purple or Cincinnati’s big, bold red, the choice is yours – or your customer’s. But either way, this one is going to turn a lot of heads and generate a lot of buzz. #WhatColorDoYouBleed, anyone?

 

Want to see and experience more promotional product trends from the PPAI Expo? Check out our album on Facebook, and while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and Pinterest to stay up-to-date with what we’re promoting.

Looking for more trends? Don’t miss our First Look at the Top Promotional Trends of 2019.

  1. Source: Advertising Specialty Institute, 2019 Global Ad Impressions Study.